The 2016 NIB Pro Junior got underway today at Merewether Beach in windy challenging 2 foot peaks. The event is the first of three World Surf League events to be run in conjunction with the Newcastle Surfest in its 31st year.
Continuing his outstanding form in 2016 was North Stradbroke Island native Ethan Ewing (AUS) who posted the highest single wave score of the contest so far, an excellent 8.25 (out of a possible 10). Ewing has been turning heads in the smaller difficult conditions, supposedly one of the weaker areas of his surfing.
"I was lucky to get two decent waves at the start," Ewing said. "I'm not to familiar with this wave so it has taken a bit of getting used too, especially with the tough conditions on offer today. It's a real roll of the dice out there today so I'm stoked to get through."
Another newcomer to the waves of Merewether Beach is young American Tyler Gunter (USA) who is competing at Surfest for the very first time. Gunter showed great competitive awareness, utilising priority late in the heat to hold on to his position in second and progress to Round 3.
"This is my first time to Newcastle and I'm loving it," Gunter said. "The waves are really hard today so I'm glad I was able to get some semi-decent scores on the board. Hopefully the waves improve tomorrow and I can keep making heats."
Posting the second highest single wave score of Women's Round 1 a near-excellent 7.25, was Jaleesa Vincent (AUS) who found a nice looking inside double up to throw down a few big hacks. Vincent stayed busy to win her heat and progress to the second round.
"It's super challenging out there today," Vincent said. "I tried to catch as many waves as I could because I knew if I could link one through to the inside you could find a section to do turns on. When you found those ones it was actually pretty fun."
Young Hawaiian surfer [Zoe McDougal] (/athletes/4116/zoe-mcdougall) (HAW) was able to find a couple of long left hand runners in her heat to finish in second behind trials winner Sophia Fulton. McDougall is starting to get in a competitive rhythm on her second visit to Newcastle.
"I have done a few events since getting to Australia so I'm feeling good during heats," McDougall said. "I watched the surf a lot before my heat so felt like I knew where to sit, but on a day like this there is a fair bit of luck involved. I just tried to stay busy and it seemed to pay off."
Check back tomorrow for the second and final day of the NIB Pro Junior where we will see a Men's and Women's Champion crowned.